How to prepare your website for Google Core Web Vitals?

How to prepare your website for Google Core Web Vitals?

To understand Google Core Web Vitals we need to first have a general idea about Google algorithms. Google algorithm is an intricate system used to extract data from its search index and immediately deliver the best possible results for a search query. Search engines use a combination of algorithms and various ranking signals to deliver webpages on search engine results pages (SERPs).

How do algorithms work?

Google’s algorithms make your work easy by searching out Web pages with keywords that you used to search. Ranks are assigned to each page based on various factors, like how many times these keywords appear on the page.
There have been many updates from Google to date. Here, we have put together a list of Google’s major algorithmic changes in the past years. We will aim to explain how prevention and cure will save your website from the latest Core Web Vital update rolled out by Google last December.

Major Google Algorithm updates in recent years:

Penguin Update

Pirate Update

Hummingbird Update

Pigeon Update

Mobile-Friendly Update

RankBrain Algorithm

Possum Update

Fred Update

Medic Core Update

BERT

Featured Snippet Deduplication

Core Algorithm Update

December 2020 Core Update

What are Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals were introduced earlier this year and are devised to measure user experience in terms of responsiveness, speed, and visual stability of a page.

The defined Core Web Vitals are:

Largest Contentful Paint: Total time taken for a page’s main content to load. The ideal LCP measurement is 2.5 seconds or faster.

First Input Delay: Total time taken for a page to become interactive. The ideal should be less than 100 ms.

Cumulative Layout Shift: This is the amount of unexpected layout shift of visual page content. The best measurement for CLS is less than 0.1.

Image Source: SEJ

Core Web Vitals may keep changing every year as user expectations of web pages change.

Why Core Web Vitals are important for my website?

Page experience is going to be an official Google ranking factor now. It will be a mix of various factors that Google considers important for user experience. Some of the factors considered important for user experience are:

HTTPS, Mobile-friendliness, Lack of interstitial pop-ups, “Safe-browsing” i.e. without malware on the page. Core Web Vitals will be the most important part of this score. As per Google’s announcement, core web vitals will make up the biggest chunk of page experience score. But of course, that is not the only ranking factor to get you a better ranking. There are approximately 200 factors used to rank sites in a search.

While all components of page experience are essential, we need to prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some of the aspects are subpar. When you have multiple pages with similar content, page experience becomes important for visibility search purposes.
In any case, all websites have around six months to improve their Core Web Vital scores because these changes will be rolled out after notice is provided.

Let me now explain all the three main components of the Core Web Vitals for a better understanding of the entire algorithm.

Largest Contentful Paint. What is LCP and How to Improve it?

Largest Contentful Paint is a simple metric that is also the biggest visual part of the page. It is often an image or a big chunk of text, the logic being once there is a visual element to look at, the user starts getting value from the page. An element can only be relevant to LCP if it has rendered and is visible. Images that are further down the page do not fall in this category.

The elements which can largely be considered relevant to Largest Contentful Paint are:

Image elements inside an SVG element

Img elements

Video elements

Block-level elements containing text nodes or inline-level text elements family

Block-level elements containing text nodes or inline-level text elements family

Elements with background images loaded via the URL function

To rectify slow LCP, we should first know the main causes of it. The most common causes of a poor LCP are:

Slow resource load times

Slow server response times

Client-side rendering

Render-blocking JavaScript and CSS

Steps to Improve LCP time:

Serve content faster

LCP being a content metric, it only makes sense to start with how long it takes to retrieve content from your server.

Activate a Content Delivery Network

A content delivery network will store your website content on servers around the world and will be served to users from the server closest to them. Less distance = less time.

Cache HTML

If your CDN (Content Delivery Network) uses edge servers, then cache the content to avoid reloading every time. If you do not use edge servers, you can cache content by managing the cloud provider’s cache behaviour.

Serve cached HTML content through a service worker

Use a service worker to further expedite the process and serve the cached content first. This means, if the LCP is a cached image, a service worker runs in the browser background and intercepts requests from the server making it possible to cache the HTML page content and update the cache when the content is changed.

Render the content faster by Clearing the path for the LCP

Scripts and stylesheets are render-blocking resources that delay FCP, and consequently LCP. To counteract these from blocking the LCP, defer any non-critical JavaScript and CSS and remove any unused CSS or move it to another stylesheet.

Optimize and minify Content where possible

LCP aims to get useful content onto the screen as quickly as possible. The time taken to load above-the-fold elements has a direct impact on LCP. Smaller files = faster loading. You may convert images into lighter formats such as JPEG 2000, JPEG XR, or WebP, avoid using an image unless 100% required, and lastly compress images with Imagemin.

For useful tips on content management, click on the link below:
Importance of blog marketing in brand building

How to improve First Input Delay (FID) for your site?

FID measures the time it takes for a user to interact with your site page. These interactions include: Choosing a menu option, clicking a link in the navigation, entering your email, etc. FID is important because it considers how real-life users interact with websites.
Here are the tips and guidelines of how you can improve your site’s FID scores.

Remove all non-essential third-party scripts

Same as FCP, third-party scripts such as Google Analytics, heatmaps, etc. will negatively impact FID.

Minimize JavaScript

It is very difficult for a user to interact with a page if the browser is still loading up Java Script. Hence minimizing or deferring it on your page helps improve FID.

Use a browser cache

This will help in loading content faster which in return helps the user’s browser speed through Java Script loading tasks.

What is Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) and how you can improve it for your site?

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures the “visual stability” of a page. This means, if elements on your page move around while the page is loading, then CLS is high which is a bad signal.

What is required is that the page elements be stable while loading. That way, users know where links, images, and fields are located when the page is loaded and don’t click on something by mistake.

Simple tips to minimize CLS

Utilize set size attribute dimensions for any media like images, GIFs, videos:

This helps the user’s browser know how much space that element will take up on that page and won’t change it randomly as the page fully loads.

Ensure ads elements have a reserved space:

This will ensure that they don’t suddenly appear on the page. Keeps content in a place where it is meant to be and not pushed around.

Add new UI elements below the fold:

Doing this ensures they don’t push the content down that the user “expects” to stay where it is.

Wrapping up:

With the Core Web Vitals being applied in May 2021, Google puts site speed and user experience at the top priority. We usually look at SEO holistically, but there are many different segments and categories to it. Working on all of them simultaneously to build the best site out there will get you through the process of updating with the new algorithm.

The above-mentioned guidelines will help you improve the Core Web Vitals scores and bring you from the red zone to the green sone effectively. But what you also need is to be consistent with the user experience quality. If you are unsure of the methods to apply you may contact an SEO agency for a professional outlook.

For more insight into the SEO technical world, please read our blog below:
Top 10 must use SEO Tools you cannot do without

For the latest updates in the SEO world and to know the services offered by us Please visit our SEO, SEM, and SMM service pages.

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